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Meet A Student/Graduate

Mark Vander Pol

Mark Vander Pol
Why did you choose to attend WSC? 
In many ways WSC chose me! My family moved to Escondido in 1983 so that my father could take a position as Director of Development at WSC, so I grew up around this place, went to church with some of the professors, and graduated high school with some of their children. You could say that I have WSC in my blood, so when I decided to go to seminary, there was only one option for me! 
After being here for two years, I have found it a blessing that all the faculty are united on issues that are being attacked throughout the Reformed world. I know that what I am learning in one class will be strengthened in another, not contradicted. I always knew that WSC had a great faculty and, for me, that has only been affirmed. WSC faculty are second-to-none.
The other thing that has impressed me about WSC is how academically challenging it is. When I leave this place, I am going to know how to "rightly handle the Word of truth." The pressures and challenges I face here will only serve to prepare me for the pressures of serving Christ in a hostile world.
You just returned to the U.S. from a short-term mission trip to Malawi with a handful of other seminarians from WSC. Would you give a brief synopsis of your trip? 
When I decided to attend seminary, I did so because I wanted to teach theology in a college or seminary abroad, like in Africa, Asia, or Eastern Europe, where there is such a need for good Reformed teachers. So participating in this Malawi trip was perfect! Here was my chance to not only teach some theology, but also to do so while on another continent! If there was ever a chance to see if this is possibly what the Lord is calling me to do, this was it!
Our primary task in Malawi was to teach some classes at Josophat Mwali Theological Institute (JMTI) in Nkhoma, Malawi. Four of us taught almost full time for two-and-a-half weeks (it was supposed to be four weeks, but that is a long story). Besides teaching we also spent some time at feeding centers established by Fletcher Matandika (a current WSC student) and taught Bible lessons to 70-80 kids for a couple of days. My wife, Michelle, also accompanied us on this trip and she taught Standard 6 English at the local primary school.
While in Malawi, we WSC students were also able to bring the Word of God to the people on the Lord's Day in the surrounding villages. It was such a blessing to be given the opportunity to worship with God's people on the other side of the world. 
How did your experiences in Malawi help you to appreciate your education at WSC?
All of us students who went to Malawi are in the MDiv program, and any of us could have taught any class we were asked to teach because we have already been greatly equipped by WSC. We taught everything from Greek to Old Testament, New Testament, Systematic Theology, Church History, and Preaching. Sure there were subjects in which each of us felt more comfortable, but we could have filled any spot. It is a blessing to know that by the time I graduate, I will have been taught all areas of theology by experts in their fields.
Another thing that my experience in Malawi helped me to appreciate more about WSC is how WSC is a beacon of Reformed orthodoxy. Even though the people in Malawi didn't know a lot about WSC before we got there, they appreciated our position on a lot of things in which they are being pressured and challenged. The assurance that we "have their back" was an encouragement to them.
What do you plan to do after you graduate from WSC?
As I mentioned earlier, I initially came to WSC with the desire to teach. That is still something that I would love to do, but as I have taken classes here and served as an intern of my church, I’ve also been considering going into the pastorate before pursuing my PhD Michelle and I have also recently been talking about going back to Malawi for an extended period of time, maybe a year or two. But there are still two more years until graduation, and any of these things may change!
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